As early as the 9th century A.D., Sabah, then under various chieftains, traded with China and later with the Spanish and Portuguese. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the ports on Borneo Island were not as popular as Melaka (Malacca). But the island had already been explored bu seafarers and traders who sought for the jungle ‘fortune’ such as camphor, rattan, wildlife and resins. During the 15th century, Sabah was a vassal of the Sultan of Brunei. In 1704, the Sultan of Brunei ceded the land east of Marudu to the Sultan of Sulu. In the early 1880’s, Moses, an American trader, obtained a lease over Sabah from Brunei. The lease was eventually passed to Alfred Dent, an Englishman. In 1881, he signed a treaty with Brunei and Sulu, converting the lease into a cession. Thus British North Borneo (Sabah’s old name) was born. It was administered by the Chartered Company of British North Borneo until the Japanese Occupation in 1945. After World War II, Sabah became a British Crown Colony. In 1963, it gained independence and joined Malaysia.
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2. Physical Geography
Sabah shares her land border with Sarawak and Brunei in the west and Kalimantan, Indonesia in the south. Sabah mempunyai keluasan 74,500 sq km. penduduknya pula berjumlah lebih kurang 2 juta orang. Ibu negeri Sabah ialah Kota kinabalu, formely known as Jesselton before its name was changed in 1968 to Kota Kinabalu, the state capital is also affectionately called KK by locals. Sabah is divided into 23 districts, namely, Tawau, Lahad Datu, Semporna, Sandakan, Kinabatangan, Beluran, Kota Kinabalu, Ranau, Kota Belud, Tuaran, Penampang, Papar, Kudat, Kota Marudu, Pitas, Beaufort, Kuala Penyu, Sipitang, Tenom, Nabawan, Keningau, Tambunan and Kunak. The state has a tropical climate with a temperature of 32 C in the area lowlands and 21C in highlands area. Sabah is a mountainous landmass covered by dense and moist tropical forests, alluvial and swampy coastal plains ‘cut’ by rivers and valleys. Standing proud and firm among Sabah’s mountain ranges, is Southeast Asia’s highest peak, Mt. Kinabalu with 4,093 metres high. Sungai terpanjang di Sabah ialah Kinabatangan River.
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Sabah is a land of mystery awaiting to be explored. As the furthest point from Kuala Lumpur, her ‘mysteriousness’ is due to her unspoilt natural wilderness that remains ‘untouched’. Sabah is popularly known as ‘The Land Below the Wind’ because it lies below the typhoon belt that surrounds the Philipine islands. During the spice-dominated sea-borne trade era, the seas around Sabah have been a safe refuge to traders from the strong winds, especially during the typhoon seasons.
Sabah is located on the northern tip of Borneo, the third largest island in the world. The seaboard state faces the South China Sea on the west and the Sulu Sea on the east. This is the land that has retained its charm and refreshness. A land that will interest the visitor with her environmental splendours, majestic mountains, awesome cloud-crested ranges, colourful landscape, a variety of flora and fauna, and her creatively cultured people,rich in custom and handiworks.
Sabah is a unique unique land, a melting pot of many indigenous and immigrant groups. The population comprises over 30 different dialects and each group has its own unique tradition, festival and custom. The indigenous groups include the Kadazan or Dusun, Bajaus, Muruts, rungus, malays which comprise Bisayas, bruneis, Orang Sungei, Kadayans, and many other sub-groups. The Chinese form the largest non-indigenous group. The present immigrants are Filipinos and Indonesians seeking better opportunities.
About three-quarters of the population of Sabah are concentrated along the coastal areas while the sparsely populated interior is mainly covered with dense jungles. The Muruts, who are great hunters and other nomadic sub-groups dwell the interior. They still practise shifting cultivation though this is being discouraged by the government.
Making up one-third of the population, the Kadazan or dusuns form the largest racial group in Sabah. They are prosperous farmers and are the main rice producers of Sabah, though many of th epresent generations have left the paddy fields. The many sub-groups of the Kadazan or Dusun include Rungus, Lotuds, Tambanuos, Kimarangans, Sanayos, Minokoks and Tenggeras.
The Bajaus, are the famous ‘Cowboys of the East.’ They are skilful horseman rearing ponies, buffaloes and cattle as well as being productive paddy growers.
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The growth sectors of the economy are agriculture, forestry, manufacturing and tourism. Exports include palm oil, cocoa beans, rubber, logs, sawn timber and crude petroleum. Pearls are also cultivated for exports to Japan.
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Malaysia Airlines has regular flights from kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Singapore, Manila and Hong Kong direct to Kota Kinabalu and Tawau. Domestic flights by Malaysia Airlines also link Kota Kinabalu to Labuan, Lahad Datu, Sandakan, Tawau and Kuching in Sarawak.
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Road networks connect border towns of Sabah with Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei’s capital city and Miri in Sarawak. It is difficult to approach Sabah by road from Kalimantan although there are interactions between the people of the two countries who live along the border of Sabah and Kalimantan.
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8. Cultural Heritage
A rich, cultural experience awaits you at the Monsopiad Cultural Village named after the legendary Kadazandusun hero. Major highlights are the House of skulls with its 42 ancient human skulls, traditional handecrafted buildings, a paddy field and a hanging bridge. You cannot get a more authentic feel of the indigenous community than here.
Meet the colourful Bajau community from kota Belud, famous as “cowboys of the east”, who where once known as sea Gypsies because of their love for adventure on the high seas. Resplendent in their colourful costumes with a silver dagger of kris as part of their outfit, their ponies are just as elaborately dressed, especially on festive occasions. The Bajau Horseman are best seen during the annual Kota Belud “Tamu Besar”.
The Rungus, a sub-tribe of the Kadazandusun indigenous group, is the main ethnic group living in the Kudat division. They live in their traditional thatched longhouse on stilts. For each family unit, there is a sleeping area, a dining area, an attic, a corridor and the living area. The entrance stairway is made of a small tree trunk with notches, leading to the main longhouse communal living area. Floors are made from small, split tree trunks tightened and held together by rattan and bark strips. The roof is made of leaves, the walls from tree bark. Only trees that bring good luck are used. Evenings are festive as gongs are played and villagers dress up in their traditional black costume with elaborate, colourful beads.
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9. Places of Interest
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10. Signal hill Observator (Kota Kinabalu)
Which affords good views of the city and its green bay.
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11. Sabah State Mosque (Kota Kinabalu)
Located at at Jalan Sembulan (Sembulan road). There is the State Mosque with majestic domes, and crafted in modern-style Islamic architecture.
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12. Sabah State Museum (Kota Kinabalu)
Wonder at the beauty of traditional Sabah architecture when you visit the three main building of the museum. The Main Building traces Sabah’s historical development, inclusive of the Shell Company’s exhibit at the Science Center, while the Sabah Art Gallery showcases the masterpieces of Sabah’s talented artists. The museum’s exhibits also include five life-size replicas of sabah’s traditional etcnic and community houses and a garden of native medical plants.
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13. Colonial Train (Steam Train)
Relive the magic of the good old colonial days, complete with the staff of the North Borneo Company dressed in planter’s style uniforms with ubiquitous solar topee hats, serving food in the original age-old tiffin containers. This magic of the past has been enhanced by today’s luxurious brocade seats and pipe- in music for added ambience. All the way from Tanjung aru to Papar, you will marvel at the pastoral countryside, with monkeys swinging from vines by the tracks, water buffaloes, quails and kingfisher in their rich turquoise colours gleaming under the sun. in this communion with nature and a glimpse into the past, you will be drawn into a pensive mood as you take stock of life and all the things that truly matter. For another memorable experience, take the old diesel train from Kota Kinabalu to Tenom, on the only commercial railway line in Borneo. Built in 1896, the train chugs past villages, rubber estates, lush tropical jungles and the magnificent Padas Gorge. Take the leisurely ride all the way to Tenom, or disembark at Rayoh Station, where you can proceed to white water raft down 2 km. Of the Padas River. This exciting adventure is sure to get your adrenaline pumping.
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14. Monsopiad Cultural Village (Kota Kinabalu)
Ten kilometres south of Kota Kinabalu is the village of Kampong Monsopiad (Monsopiad Village) famous for its Monsopiad Cultural Village. Named after the prolific head-hunter Monsopiad, it contains a museum, a handicraft workshop, and a hall to hold cultural dances and traditional feasts. Monsopiad’s grisly harvest of 40 skulls are also displayed.
15. ‘Tamu’ & ‘Cowboy of the East’(Kota Belud)
kota Belud, 75 km northeast of Kota Kinabalu, is famous for its Sunday ‘tamu’ at Jalan Hasbollah. The Bajaus, often called the ‘Sea Gypsies’, a great sailors. Now, very much settled on the land, Bajaus are the famous ‘cowboys of the East’. They are skilful horseman rearing ponies, buffaloes and cattle as well as being productive paddy growers.Horseman from the Bajau, Rungus and KadazanDusun in traditional costumes ride in from around the countryside to trade in a wide array of products. An annual tamu is also held in November with the atmosphere of a carnival, where there are also games and competitions
16. Natural Attractions
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17. Kinabalu Park
Less than 2 hours’ drive from Kota Kinabalu, a drive to the Park passes through lush verdant countryside where you will be amazed to find buttercups, rhododendrons, a wide array of exotic orchids, pitcher plants, to name a few. A bus service runs twice daily from Kota Kinabalu, in addition 40 4-wheel drive vehicles. Coaches, small aircraft and helicopters available for charter. Located at 1,558 metre above sea level, Sabah’s oldest park was gazetted in 1964 and covers 754 sq. km. Including Mt. Kinabalu, Mt. Tambayukon to the north and their foothills. Of the most complex ecological system compacted in one small area. In fact, much of the world-renowned eco-treasures of Sabah can be found at Kinabalu Park, where you will find vegetation ranges from cloud forest to mountain forest to lowland forest. The majestic mountain, has a fascinating geological history. It began approximately a million years ago when the granite core lying beneath the earth’s crust was solidifying. This granite massif was later thrust upwards through the crust to the surface. Subsuquent erosian removed thousands of feet of the overlying sand and mud stone exposing this massif. During the Ice Age, glaciers running through the summit plateau, smoothed it out but the jagged peaks that stood out above the ice surface, remained unaffected by these ‘cosmetic’ touches and retained their extremely ragged surfaces. This rugged mountain, 4, 101 metres above sea level, and still imperceptibly rising, is the focal point of the National Park. The park is a favourite getaway whether for day trips or week-long stays to explore the rare and endless eco-treasures found within. For overnight accommodation, make your reservations and payment at Kinabalu Nature Resort office in Kota Kinabalu. Privately operated room and board facilities are also available within easy distance of the Park.
Flora & fauna
The park is known for the abundance and diversity of its plant life, within one of the most ancient vegetations in the world. There are over 1,200 species of wild orchids and 40 varieties of oak in its forests, not to mention the countless varieties of rhododendrons with blooms ranging in hue from deep red to pale pink and white! Masses of moss and ferns weigh down the trees of the Montane oak forests of the upper regions. Flowers are to be seen everywhere on the trees, in the shrubs, along the banks on the forest floor and even peeping out of the rocky crevices of the summit. Orchids such as the white necklace orchids are as delicately beautiful as their namesake.
The Bornean mountain ground squirrel Dremomys eve are often spotted scampering about in the scrub vegetation while the mountain tree shrew Tupaia montana are easily spotted along the mountain trails. You may even come across a red-necked keelback snake sunning itself along your path. The variety of birds range from mountain black eye, mountain black bird, Borneo eye bright, Euphrasia borneensis, and the now ‘not-so-friendly’ nor so easily sighted Friendly Kinabalu Warbler.
The Park Headquarters at 1,524 metres above sea level, has a range of accommodation facilities, restaurants and an exhibit centre.
Accommodation (At Kinabalu Park)
The Park charges different rates for accommodation on weekdays and weekends.
Nepenthes Villa (2 bedrooms/ 4 persons) – 1 unit
Rajah Lodge (5 bedroom/ 10 person)- 1 unit
Kinabalu Lodge (4 bedroom/ 8 person) – 1 unit
Double Storey/ Deluxe Cabin (3 bedroom/ 7 persons) – 1 unit
Single Deluxe/ Cabin (2 bedrooms/ 5 persons) – 1 unit
Duplex 2-Bedroom/ Chalet (6 persons in each) – 4 units
Two-roomed/ Annex Suite (4 persons in each) – 4 units
Twin Bed Cabin (2 persons in each) – 10 units
New Fellowship/ Hostel (52 persons in dormitory room)
Old Fellowship/ Hostel (46 persons in dormitory room)
The above cabins are provided with a fireplace, kitchen, shower, gas cooker and a refrigerator and cooking and eating utensils. Visitors intending to cook must bring their own food. Simple meals (both western and local) are available at the clubhouse and canteen in the Administration building. Electricity, piped water and firewood are all provided free of charge. All accommodation fees are subject to 5% Government Tax.
18. Poring Hot Spring
Located 39 km. Away from Kinabalu Park is the poring Hot Springs, where you can soak in the skin-curative properties of a hot sulphur bath, trek the various trails through rich lowland forest, mountain streams and waterfalls or do some bird-watching and the colourful profusion of wild flowers. If you’re lucky, you might even catch sight of a Refflesia, the world’s largest flower! The hot spring, first developed by the Japanese during World War II, now feature several open-air Japanese-style baths. Take a dip to rest your tired feet and aching muscles. The water contains sulphur, known for its curative properties for curing skin problems.
Accommodations: Poring Chalet (6 persons perunit) - 2 units
Old Cabin ( 3 bedroom – 6 persons)
New Cabin ( 2 bedroom – 4 person)
Youth Hostel ( 2 blocks with a capacity of 24 and 40 person in each block)
Camp ground (30 person)
Tents, blankets and pillows can be rented
There are facilities such as restaurant to catter for visitors intending to stay overnight at Poring Hot Springs.
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19. Mount Kinabalu
The state Capital, Kota Kinabalu, was specially named in reverence to Mount Kinabalu, the highest challenge in Borneo. Rising majestically at 4,095.2 m. or 13,432.26 ft., Mount Kinabalu has a mystique so inspiring, it’s magical. With its granite peak often shrouded in mists and clouds, it never fails to lure travellers all the way to the top. Conquering Mt. Kinabalu does not require mountain-climbing skills, just basic fitness. It takes a minimum of 2 days to climb the 14.5 km. trail to the summit of Mt. Kinabalu. It gives you the chance to look around and absorb the sights and sounds of your surroundings. See the clear mountain streams, observe the subtle changes in vegetation as your trail leads you first through the montane oak, rhododendron and conifer forests, to the mossy cloud forest zone with its gnarled twisted trees covered in moss and epiphytic orchids and ferns; and finally to the alpine meadow vegetation of the scrub-like summit regions. You may chance upon the maiden’s veil fungus Dictyophora, the delicate plant with the foul-smelling mucous on the outer surface of its cap. Insects feeding on this mucous unsuspectingly transport the spores that inevitably get stuck to their feet.
The park organises complimentary visitor programmes for first-times to the park. This include slide/ film shows and guided trails walks conducted by park naturalists. Take advantage to these to gain some informative and educational insights on the parks’s flora and fauna.
Arrangements for climbing
Make sure you have good shoes. Tennis or gym shoes are fine.
Bring enough warm clothing. The temperature can fall to below freezing point at night. Pack all clothes in plastic bags to keep them dry in case of rain. Sleeping bags are provided at the mountain huts.
Bring something wind and water-proof, gloves and a hat.
Bring a waterbottle with you
Bring some high-energy foods for climb (e.g. chocolate, nuts, raising. Glucose sweets are good)
Bring a good torchlight.
Headache tablets, paper tissues, a couple of plastic bags and some plasters for cuts or blisters are all useful.
There are overnight accommodation and rest houses, with climbers leaving before dawn to catch the magnificent sunrise at the peak. Park regulations require the climb to be done with a registered guide, so make reservations for your mountain guide and porter through the Park’s Head Office in Kota Kinabalu. A minimal fee that goes towards the conservation and maintenance of the Park, is charged at the Registration Office of Kinabalu Park Headquarters. Transportation arrangements can be made individually or through tour operators, while accommodation can be arranged through the Kinabalu Nature Resort. Reservations cannot be made at the Park headquarters. Accommodations are usually fully booked during the peak climbing season, so do confirm your reservations before arrival.
Sabah Parks, Lot 3, Block K, Sinsuran Complex
88806 Kota Kinabalu
Tel: 6088-212719/ 211881
Kinabalu Nature Resort
The park also provides lodging facilities for climbers. These facilities are situated on the mountain at two altitudes; 11,000 ft and 12,500 ft. They serve as overnight rest areas prior to the ascent to the summit.
Click here for info: Accommodation
Rest House/ Mountain Huts At 11,000 feet.
Laban Rata Rest House – 3322 metre ( 1 rest house –10 bunks). Canteen and shower facilities provided
Gunting Lagadan hut – 3353 metre ( 1 hut – 12 bunks)
Panar Laban hut – 3353 metre ( 1 hut –12 bunks)
Waras Hut – 3292 metre ( 1 hut – 12 bunks)
Mountain Huts 12,500 feet
Sayat-Sayat hut –8810 metre ( 1 hut – 18 bunks)
- The mountain huts provide wooden bunks with mattresses, gas cylinders, cooking utensils and a limited supply of eating utensils, climbers must bring their own food for cooking
The waterfalls that are describeb here are the Kiansom Waterfall, Langganan Waterfall, Madai Waterfalls, Maliau Waterfall, Mawah Waterfall and the Purun Waterfall. The nearest waterfall withing reach from Kota Kinabalu is the Kiansom Waterfall. Well known as the spot for weekend family recreation, this waterfall is about 60 feet in height with several spots to swim in along the lower parts of the fall. Driving to ranau on the way to Mount kinabalu you will see another waterfall in the far distance. This is Kedamaian Waterfall but is not easily accessible and it takes a minimum 2 days to reach its base. At the Poring Hot Springs, however, a semilar waterfall to that of the Kedamaian Waterfall can be reached within 2 hours of walking. The Langganan Waterfall stands at least 600ft in height and can be seen on the route to Poring Hot Springs from the Poring Village. If you would like to trek and visit the Laganan Waterfall, you will need to report your intentions to the Park warden and it is best to have an accompanying guide.
There are a few waterfalls in the Telupid and other remote areas. On your way to Lahad Datu, there is a newly opened Park called the Madai Baturong Forest Reserve Centre where you can visit the Madai Waterfall. From a small stream running across the main road, the water falls into a big depression forming a waterfall of at least 150ft. you can also view the waterfall from a canopy walkway within the park.
Maliau Basin Waterfall
Perhaps one of the most beautiful waterfall in Sabah and probably the most well known is the Maliau Waterfall. Located in the Maliau Basin also known as “Sabah’s Lost World,” this waterfall has several tiers and can only be reached by driving to the basin and trekking to the Basin’s campsite.
In Keningau and Tambunan there are a few smaller falls, the well known of which is called the Mawah Waterfall which is about 100ft. it is located at kampung Patau and this offroad destination is easily accessible. This is a popular site especially for the local school students. Other smaller waterfalls include the Sunsuran Waterfall, Moyog Waterfall and Sugud Waterfall. On your journey down to the south of Sabah into the far remote area of Sipitang, you will find in a village called Maligan another waterfall that is said to the other most beautiful waterfall in Sabah called the Purun Waterfall. Located in the Sigalong camp, its water runs down very semilar to that of the Maliau Waterfall. This waterfall is about 150ft high.
Furter information: please contact Sabah tourism (088-212121, 088-232121)
21. Tenom Orchid Centre (Tenom)
Located about 100 km from Tambunan and Passing through the small town of Keningau. At the Tenom Agricultural Research Station at Lagud Sebran, you can take an educational trip in crop cultivation. Its Orchid Centre is ablaze with thousands of the colourful orchid blooms cascading from plants or tree trunks.
22. Crop Museum (Tenom)
In the Crop Museum, one can stroll amidst rows and rows of exotic fruit trees. About 30 km south of Tenom are two sizable murut villages worth visiting-Kampung Mamai and Kampong Kaparungan.
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23. Rafflesia Complex (Tambunan)
Rafflesia, the largest flower in the world is a magnificently beautiful, fascinating and unique flower. It has no leaf, stem or roots of its own and yet has the biggest flower. At VJR Rafflesia, a conservation area dedicated to the conservation of Rafflesia, you can see this impressive flower, literally, from the comfort of your car seat. The nearest site where Rafflesia pricei grows is just 20 metres from the Tambunan/ Kota Kinabalu highway.
The Rafflesia conservation area covers 356 hectare of prestine highland forest within the Crocker range. From Kota Kinabalu, it is a little over an hour’s drive and from the town of Tambunan, a mere 20 minutes. The conservation centre was established in 1984 and was officially open in 1990 with the setting up of the Rafflesia Information Centre.
The Rafflesia Information Centre is a pentagonal shaped building, depicting the five petals of the Rafflesia flower. Inside, there is a Rafflesia information gallery where photographs, drawings, text information are displayed. A model showing the relief of the conservation area and the location of Rafflesia plot is also displayed. At the centre of the building stood a 20 feet tall Selangan Batu stump. At its base, lie 2 life-size flower of Rafflesia pricei. T-shirt, key-chain, postcard, mini Rafflesia replica, books, pamphlets and other souvineurs item can be bought at the counter.
Besides the Rafflesia Information Centre, the conservation area also has a picnic ground, look out pavilion and nature trails. The picnic ground is located at Masakob where a 20 feet waterfall is found. Other facilities provided at the picnic ground include a cooking area, changing room, washroom, resting hut and parking area.
For the more adventures, the centre’s nature trails lead to many interesting parts of the conservation area where visitors can see giant trees, and Rafflesia plots. An old ‘salt route’ which the centre calls Sunsuran Trail is one such trail. It is the path treaded by our otherwise self sufficient forefathers from Tambunan to get their salt supply from Kota Kinabalu. This trail lost its glory when the Tambunan/ Kota Kinabalu highway was opened in the early 70’s from the look out pavilion visitors can get a glimpse of the forest that is part of the conservation area, the Sunsuran river valley and Sunsuran Village in the distance. The pavilion is just about 5 minutes walk from the Rafflesia Information Centre. Within the jungle area, there are lots to see besides the Rafflesia flower. The forest is rich with flora and fauna-birds, insects and small mammals, giant lianas, orchids, tall seraya trees and Agathis area a common site.
The Rafflesia information:
Open: 8 am- 4.30 pm (daily)
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24. River Safari (Sapulut)
The most adventurous destination is to Sapulut, 170 km away. Here, one can take river cruises to traditional longhouse communities in the interior. There are three such settlements about one hour’s boat ride away; namely, Kampung Pagalongan (Pagalongan Village), Pensiangan and Kampung Silungai (Pensiangan and Silungai Village)) with a 120-metre long longhouse. The most popular trip from Sapulut is to Batu Punggal, taking a three-hour boat trip up the Sapulut River. The Tinahas Caves near Batu Punggal houses thousands of bath and swifts. Accommodation can be at the Batu Punggal Resort or at a Murut longhouse. An evening of traditional feast can also be arranged.
25. Crocker Range National Park
The Park is situated in the rugged Crocker Range that divides the western coastal plains from the rest of Sabah. Lying more than 300 metres above sea level, it is spread over 139,919 hectares of densely forested terrain. The Padas River which bisects the range between Beaufort and Tenom on its journey southwest, is just one of the twelve that flow through the mountains. Passage by boat was impossible due to the boulders strewn along the swift flowing Padas Gorge. However, human ingenuity led to the construction of a railway alongside the scenic gorge. Roads crossing the range have also made the interior more accessible from the coastal areas making it possible for visitors to enjoy the serene tranquility in the rugged mountains.
Flora and fauna
The vegetation is predominantly a mix of dipterocarp forests and the montane forests of the upper slopes. The bright yellow flowers of the Dillenia suffruticosa, a woody shrub usually found on infertile deforested soil are a common feature here. So too are the Tetrastigma, the wild vine, playing host to the Refflesia pricie, one of the three parasitic rafflesia species found on Sabah’s mountain ranges. The forest is home to at least five species of primates, such as orang utan, gibbons and the furry tarsier (kera hantu) with its enormous round eyes and frog-like hands and feet. Here too resides the extremely sociable long-tailed macaques. Easily identified by their prominent cheek whiskers, they are often spotted obligingly grooming each other and picking out edible insects, in the process! Their intelligent pig-tailed cousins (pigtailed macaques) are extremely adept at plucking coconuts and can contribute significantly to the labour force in coconut plantation! Bears, civet cats, marble cats, and wild pigs also roam the forest floor while hornbills, pheasants and partridges may be spotted flitting between the dense foliage.
There are no visitor facilities within the park at present. However, there are plans to establish a Park Headquarters at the present site of the Forestry Department building in the near future. Private accommodation is available at a resort outside the park area.
How to get there
Presently, the crocker Range national Park is not open for public visits. Therefore, those who intend to visit must obtain written permission from the Director of Sabah Parks. This also applies to travel agents who are bringing tourists to the said park.
Sabah Parks, P.O. Box 10626,
88806 Kota Kinabalu
Tel: 088-21 1881, 21 2508
Fax: 088-22 1001, 21 1585
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26. Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary (Sandakan)
This world-famous sanctuary enables visitors to come in close contact with the remarkable “man of the forest” (this is what the Malay name means) and witness an exciting conservation programme in action. Only 25 km. from Sandakan town, and set in 43 sq km. of beautiful virgin rainforest, the sanctuary was begun in 1964 to help once captive orang utan learn to fend for themselves in the wild.
These large red apes-man’s closest relative are astonishingly gentle and highly intelligent, gazing at visitors with almost disconcerting frankness. To avoid the spread of disease, touching the animals is not permitted inside the sanctuary. However, it is usually possible to meet and photograph a couple of the mature females, who are so fond of human company that they refuse to go back to the wild, just outside the Registration Centre. After watching orphaned orang utan being taught how to climb, visitors then go to a platform where they can watch the semi-wild orang utan come in from the further reaches of the forest for their twice-daily ration of milk and bananas.
The sanctuary also houses a couple of highly endangered Sumatran rhinos, and occasionally other animals such as elephants. There is an Information Nature Education Centre, and mini-theatre where a documentary video on the work of the Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary is shown. Visitors are advised to arrive about one hour in advance to register and enjoy activities prior to the feeding. It is possible to take a taxi to Sepilok, and have it wait for your return; there are also infrequent buses marked ‘Sepilok’ leaving from the station near the Central market. All tour operators offer guided tours which include transport.
Daily feeding time: 10 am, 2.30 pm
Entrance fee: RM10 per person
Still cameras: free
Video cameras: RM10
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27. Gomantong Caves (Sandakan)
For centuries, the caves in this limestone outcrop, once accessible by a stream off the Kinabatangan River, have been harvested for their valuable edible birds nests. Harvesting continues to this day, although it is regulated by the Wildlife Department to avoid over-exploitation.
Two cave complexes produc different types of nests, the less valuable ‘black’ nests which consist of hardened saliva mixed with feathers, gathered in the easily accessible Simud Hitam Cave. This cave, with its roof soaring up to 90 metres high, is just a five-minutes walk from the Registration Centre and picnic area, and gives visitors a glimpse of the remarkable life within a limestone cave. Swiftlets, who make the valuable nests, and bats share the caves with thousands of insects which live in the rich guano on the floor.
The Simud Puteh Cave complex, much larger and less easily accessible than Simud Hitam Cave, is where the more valuable ‘white’ nests made of pure saliva are found; these can fetch more than US$500 per kilo. Twice a year, licensed collectors gather the nest in a dangerous operation involving the use of rattan ladders, ropes and poles. The nest are first harvested just after the birds have made them (between February and April). The birds then build new nests, which are left undisturbed until after the eggs have been laid and hatched; these nests are then gathered, some time between July and September.
The birdlife around the caves is particularly rich, with Crested Serpent Eagles, Kingfishers, Asian Fairy Bluebirds and Leafbirds often sighted. Large groups of vividly coloured butterflies are frequently found feeding on along the road leading through the forest into the caves.
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28. Lower Kinabatangan River (sandakan)
The greatest concentration of wildlife in Malaysia, and possibly all of Borneo, can be found remarkably close to Sandakan, along the lower reaches of Sabah’s biggest and longest river, the Kinabatangan. Wild orang utan, macaques, red and silver leaf monkeys, elephants, dozens of beautiful nirds including several species of hornbill, crocodiles, civet cats and otters may all be viewed in this region, although the most famous creature of all is undoubttedly the bizarre Proboscis monkey.
Thanks to their habit of socializing in the mangrove trees along the river banks late afternoon, the Proboscis monkeys are very easy to spot. Found only in Borneo, the male of this species has a large pendulous nose, fat belly, thick white tail, and a peculiar mixture of colours that makes him look as if he’s wearing grey tights, white underpants and an orange jacket. The Proboscis monkey is large, and has webbed feet which make him a strong swimmer. He is remarkably entertaining to watch as he leaps forcefully into space, seeingly without thought of where to land, crashing heavily and with maximum noise into a nearby tree.
The many dramatic and beautiful birds of the Kinabatangan region include elegant Egrets, several species of Kingfisher, the Oriental darter or Snake bird which dives underwater to catch its prey, swift and vividly coloured Bee-eaters, and Hornbills, huge ungainly birds with a heavy wingbeat and strange casque on their beaks.
It is possible to take an afternoon tour by boat across Sandakan Bay and through the salt-water swamp forest into the mouth of the Kinabatangan River, and on up to the first settlement, Kampung Abai, returning to Sandakan at night.
Visitors who prefer an indepth look at the area’s wildlife can stay overnight at Sukau, just two hours by road from Sandakan, where accommodation is provided by local tour operators. For at least two hours in the late afternoon, visitors thread through the fresh-water swamp forest to discover the Proboscis monkeys and other wildlife in the comfort of a boat. Because of lack of public transport to Sukau, the only practical way to visit is with a tour operator.
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29. Danum Valley Conservation Area (Lahad Datu)
Nestled in the interior of Sabah, the Danum Valley Conservation Area near Lahad Datu town is one of the last remaining preserves of primary lowland rainforest in Asia. The Danum Valley provides visitors with an unparalled ecological experience into the wilds and wonders of ancient tropical forests. Within its 438 sq. km. the rich diversity of animal and plant life display the complex interaction of a natural, dynamic ecosystem found only in rainforests.
The hot and humid jungle teems with a variety of towering tropical trees, lingering lianas, exotic orchids and overhanging epiphytes. There are few places on earth that can provide such an awe-inspiring spectacle of nature in its original, pristine state.
Danum valley was formely part of a 972,000 hectare forest concession assigned to the Sabah Foundation by the State Government. In May 1995, the area was declared a Class 1 (Protection) Forest Reserve by the Sabah Legislative Assembly, under the authority of the Sabah Forestry Department, which prohibits the issuance of timber and logging concessions.
Currently the Sabah Foundation works to make it a center for wildlife research, education and eco-tourism. The Foundation also provides infrastructural support in the form of road acces. Radio communication and manpower to assist the state authorities in conserving Danum and supporting the development of scientific and commercial establishments for research purpose which culminated in the opening of the Danum Valley field Center in 1986.
As a pocket of lowland rainforest habits designated for conservation. Danum Valley preserves the best of the natural world with many plant and animal species found only in the forests, rivers and wetlands of Borneo. Danum valley’s uniqueness lies in the dipterocarp forests covering over 90% of the area. These forest are a haven for indigenous tree species. Like the keruing Daun Besar, Selangan Jangkang, Mengaris and Kapur Biasa. Danum valley is a sanctuary to over 110 mammals, including the rare Sumatran rhino and ten primate species among which are the Orangutan and the Proboscis monkey. The valley is also home to over 275 bird species and numerous reptiles, amphibians, fishes, countless insects and other fascinating creatures.
As one of the few private protected areas in Malaysia, Danum represents not only a natural treasure, but also an opportunity for land managers and conservationists to work together to sustain the biological resources unique to tropical habitats. One of the primer research and education facilities in Southeast Asia. The Danum Valley Field Center overseas research projects, controls forest enrichment planning sites, education, training and wilderness recreation and is a meeting place for naturalists from all over the world.
Among the many nature activities the Borneo Rainforest Lodge provides are:
Wiliam & Kate Visit Danum Valley
Nature walks with knowledge guides who will point out interesting flora and fauna and lead you through undisturbed riverine and lowland dipterocarp forests
Jungle wildlife treks along an escarpment trail with panoramic views over orangutan habitats
Canopy walkway where bird watching can be carried out
Visits to an ancient Kadazan dusun burial site
Night safari drive in open jeeps in search of wildlife
Refreshing swims in rivers and waterfalls
Day trips to danum Valley Field Center
Slide presentations by naturalists
Guided tours to reforestation and research areas.
Undoubtedly, the wildlife in Danum makes for a memorable experience. Some of the rarest species in Borneo are found in this valley and it is here that sightings of the clouded leopard or Sumatran rhino have occurred.
For the nature lover, Danum Valley is a picture book of the exotic and beautiful. Marvel at the distinctive features of the long nosed Proboscis monkey and the membrane wings of the flying lemur; enjoy the acrobatic antics of the graceful gibbons as they swing rapidly among the trees, their whooping calls echoing through the forest at dawn as opposed to the reasonant groans of the male orangutans which filter through the nighttime. Some mammals found in this valley: orangutan, Western tarsier, Flying lemur, Leopard cat, Yellow barking deer, Mousedeer, Sambar deer, Bearded pig, Malay civet, Long-tailed macaque, Slow loris, Clouded leopard, Giant flying squirrel, Lain pygmy squirrel, Malayan sun bear, Bateng, Smooth otter, Sivered langur, Proboscis monkey, Sumatran rhino and Asian elephant.
This valley is also a bird watchers’ paradise. The most recognizable are the majestic hornbills with their long beaks, colourful plummage and loud swooshing wingbeats. Some of Sabah’s rarer residents such as the Great Argus, Bulwar’s Pheasant, the Bornean Bristlehead and the Giant Pitta have also been sighted at Danum Valley. Some of the birds found in Danum Valley: Bay owl, Bill fletcher, Crested fireback pheasant, Black-backed kingfisher, Lesser green leafbird, Bornean flycatcher, Blue-headed pitta, Crimson sunbird, Asian fairy bluebird, Grey-breasted spiderhunter, Spectacled bulbul, Buffy fish owl, Helmeted & wreathed hornbills, Busy-crested & pied hornbill, Rhinoceros hornbill.
With every layer of forest providing shelter for Danum’s birdlife, visitors must sharpen their senses and be constantly on the look out for elusive species by their calls, movements or makings. Patient scrutiny is sure to be rewarded with a decent list of sightings. Ususally the sightings will intensify during the fruiting season between July to August.
Although not everone’s favourite creatures, insects are one of the Valle’s most fascinating inhabitants. Danum supports thousands of these little known but very important inhabitants of the tropical rainforest. With only a few stinging bees and wasps, most of the insect colony are harmless and deserve the attention given to their larger counterparts. Take time to find butterflies like the Chocolate soldier, look closely for the cleverly camouflaged Spiny stick insect which appears at first glance to be a twig; and listen to the song of the cicadas as they add chirping to the natural music of Danum.
Unlike the African savannah, wildlife in the lowland rainforests of Borneo is not always easy to sight. To spot nocturnal creatures like the leopard cat or clouded leopard who only wake and hunt for food in the dark, one must be prepared to forego sleep and spend many hours waiting and watching patiently.
Standing under the green cover of the rainforest while being encircled by the immense diversity of plants, one cannot help but marvel at the spectacle which took nature centures to complete.
A seemingly limitless bounty of orchids, ferns, fruit trees, lichens and lianas are unveiled as jungle trails through danum take you into the heart of the natural world. With over 50 km. of cool hiking trails through the dipterocarp forest and riverine habitats, a trip into the forests become a new learning experience as knowledgeable guides point out things easily missed by untrained eyes. Take particular note that no visitor is allowed to trek or jungle walk without being accompanied by aguide for their own safety. The many viewing platforms perched on high plateaus overlook panoramic vistas and observation decks attached to mighty tropical timbers allow a visitor closer acces into the forest canopy.
Some of the special activities at Danum are the canopy walkway and night drivers in search of wildlife in open jeeps equipped with spotlights to flush the nocturnal dwellers from the undergrowth. The 27 meter high L-shaped canopy walkaway anchored by sturdy Mengaris and majau trees gives visitors a bird’s eye view of the forest and is a perfect vantage point for bird watching.
Getting to Danum Valley
Danum Valley is located 80 km. inland from Lahad Datu on Sabah’s east coast. The journey takes approximately 2 hours with the first 15 km. being the main Lahad Datu-Tawau road. The rest of the ride is on an unsealed but well maintained private logging road. While it is possible to take your own transport into the Valley, permits will have to be obtained beforehand. It is thus better to avail yourselves of the pick-up service provided by Borneo Nature Tours Sdn. Bhd. From Lahad Datu airport. Bordered by the Segama and Danum Rivers, Danum Valley is a rugged terrain of gently sloping inclines with elevation less than 70 meters in most places. Descending into level riverine habitats. Three summit in the interior of Danum, the highest reaching 1,093 meters, give way to a rolling plateau on the western side and form the headwaters of the Segama River which traverses through a continuous series of gorges, of which only a couple are accessible by foot.
|Danum valley Location (click to enlarge)|
The Borneo Rainforest Lodge (BRL) is the only accommodation facility in Danum. Located beside the lovely Danum River, the lodge offers 23 bungalows which can accommodate up to 60 persons. The lodge offers fully nature walks on the extensive trail syatem, night drivers and walks as well as day visits to Danum Valley Field Center, a research, training and rehabilitation center Made from river stone and core logs, the chalets are designed along the lines of traditional Kadazandusun dwellings and linked together by walkways. The lodge is open 12 months a year. A three-day, two-night stay is encouraged. Full board accommodation package rates start from RM350 per person. There is also a campbed facility (tented camp) seven km. from the lodge where visitors can spend the night under the watchful protection of field guide. Packages start at RM250 per person (prices are subject to change).
Apart from the nature walks, trekking and bird watching, the lodge also provides the services of guides and arranges for angling trips, river rafting, extended night drivers and many other activities. Contact Borneo Nature Tours Sdn. Bhd. For further information: (Tel) 089-880 207/ 089-880 206 (Fax) 089-885 051 (e-mail) email@example.com
Visitors are advised to bring along light cotton tops, long pants and sturdy walking or hiking shoes and a container of drinking water to prevent dehydration their walks. There are nominal charges imposed on visitors to Danum Valley. Entrance permit fees range from RM4 per day to RM30 for a residential visit. A fee is also levied for the use of cameras and video cameras. Collections go to a trust fund for conservation activities. Visitors are reminded not to hurt, frighten or disturb any animal or bird: or attempt to smuggle any forest inhabitant out of the Valley. There is a penalty for defacing, destroying or haming the flora and fauna in Danum.
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30. Tawau Hills Park
The lush forests of the Tawau Hills in the east coast of Sabah serves as an important water catchment area for Tawau and Semporna. The area was gazetted as a National Park to protect the natural environment with its unique flora and fauna and to ensure an uninterrupted water supply for the region. Rugged volcanic terrain cover the natural landscape, in sharp contrast to the neatly cultivated plantations of oil palm, cocoa and rubber on the flat coastal plains. It covers an area of 27,972 hectares.
Flora and fauna
Lush dipterocarp forest vegetation and lianas cover the lower regions giving way to thick damp mossy forests as the altitude gets higher and temperature get cooler. The variety of plant life found within the park include Agathis, Mountain ru, Tree ferns, different species of orchids and begonia.
A particularly interesting species is the Mengaris tree whose smooth grey trunk makes it particularly difficult to climb. Wild bees protect their precious store of honey from the voracious honey bears, by making their honeycombs high up these trees. Macaques, creamy white leaf monkeys, giant tree squirrels, civet cats and leopard cats inhabit the park’s dense primary forests. Borneo’s largest wild cat-the clouded leopard, through rarely seen is not uncommon. It preys on smaller mammals such as rats and even bigger wild pigs. Other inhabitants of the harmless kind include hornbills and pheasants and the slow-moving forest tortoise.
Highest tropical rainforest tree in the world
In 2006, American scientist Dr Roman Dial and two friends climbed up a 'Seraya Kuning Siput' (Shorea faquetiana) in Taman Bukit Tawau near here. The trio risked life and limb in order to find out the accurate measurement of this tree, a tropical rainforest plant, located in the forest reserve of some 28,000 hectares. After placing the end of the measuring tape at the tip of the highest point on the tree, Dr Dial, a professor in Biologi and Mathematic of Alaska Pacific University, finally recorded the tree's height at 88.32 meters. That measurement made the Seraya Kuning Siput in Tawau Hills Park the highest tropical rainforest tree in the world.
After recording the tree's height, Dr Dial and his team then moved on to look for trees of other species in the park. In two square km there, they found seven more that measured more than 80 meters in height. The discovery by Dr Dial and his team was recorded in the National Geographic magazine, July 2006 edition.
Planning an itinerary
Cool strams meandering through a lush tropical forest setting and waterfalls cascading excitingly into frothing rocky pools down below, make it an ideal location for picnics and refreshing dips-away from the stress and strains of everyday life. There are also hotsprings-Mother Nature’s very own spa, where you can ease your tired muscles and weary bones while luxuriant in the the therapeutic warmth of the ‘geotermal’ pool.
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32. Turtle Island Park
The Turtle Island Park lies 40 km north of Sandakan in the Sulu sea off Sabah’s east coast. It encompasses 1,740 hectares which includes the three island of Selingan Island, Bakkungan Kecil Island and Gulisan Island; the sea surrounding coral reefs. The islands are built over shallow rocky surrounding reef on the fringes. They are covered with a variety of plant life which includes mangrove, lantana, the yellow-flowered sophora and the furry silver-leaved Tournefortia. The main attractions here, however are the turtles which comes to nest on their shores. Pulau Selingan (Selingan Island) is the main nesting area for the green turtles chelonia mydas , while the hawksbill turtles Eretmochelys seem particularly attracted to the shores of Pulau Gulisan (gulisan Island). Both species lay their eggs on these shores throughout the year, although the best months are between July to October. The islands were gazetted as Marine Parks in 1977 primarily for the protection of these two species in order to save them from extinction. A visit to these islands is a must on your itinerary, if you are interested in the conservation of these turtles.
The turtles really take their time laying their eggs. The whole ritual of emerging from the sea, then choosing a suitable site and clearing the area before laying its eggs (about 40 to 90 eggs per batch); concealing the eggs with sand and finally taking their leave takes one whole hour! So be prepared for a longwait if you wish to observe the nesting.
Park staff collect the eggs and transfer them to hatcheries where every effort is made to ensure successful hatching. After an incubation period of about 50 to 60 days, the hatchlings dig their way up to the surface and they are later released to the sea from different points around the islands. They are then on their own, to survive the dangers at sea and perhaps return one day to lay their eggs on the very same shores as their mother once did.
How to get there
There are boat services from Sandakan Harbour to the islands. The journey may take anything between 45 minutes to 3 hours depending on your destination and the boat’s speed.
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33. Pulau Selingan (Selingan Island)
Almost 8 hectares in size is the second largest island in the group. The turtles come ashore on the east and southwestern parts of the island to lay their eggs before returning to the sea. They normally come ashore after 7.30 pm but have also been seen nesting in the early hours of the morning between 5 to 6 am.
Accommodation is available on the island for those who wish to stay overnight to witness the nesting. A restaurant is also available for visitors to enjoy hot meals.
Chalets – 3 units (fully furnished) for 20 persons per night.
34. Pulau Bakungan Kecil (Bakungan Kecil Island)
This is the largest island and it lies close to the Philipines border. Active mud volcanoes are also present here. These are not true volcanoes but originate as mineral-rich mud, expelled from deep below the surface. The favourite nesting places of the green turtles are the beaches on the northern and western shores of the island. There are no accommodation facilities on Pulau Bakkungan Kecil.
35. Pulau Gulisan (Gulisan Island)
The island is a mere 1.6 hectare in size but remains one of the favourite haunts of the hawksbill turtles which lay their eggs on the northern, eastern and southwestern beaches. All sea turtles eat marine animals such as sponges, marine worms and molluscs and the hawksbills are no exception. Being carnivorous, they feed on the invertebrate animals of the coral reefs. The adult green turtles however, are strict vegetarians, limiting their diet to the underwater grass and seaweed.
Guidelines for visitors
The park was created to protect the natural environment especially the sea turtles, the coral reefs and other marine life. There are therefore stringent rules which visitors are advised to observe.
Visitors are forbidden from engaging in any of the following:
Wander along the beach after dark (the Park Ranger will inform them when there is a turtle laying eggs.
Build campfires, shine bright torches on the beach, sing, dance or play music on the beach at night.
Disturb the turtle during the nesting process by coming too close or crowding around her. Instead, visitors are advised to watch the nesting from a distance.
Under ant circumstances, ride on the turtle, pull her flippers, turn her over, jump on her or injure her physically. Such acts of abuse may have adverse effects on future nesting returns.
Night photography is strictly forbidden on Pulau Selingan but allowed on the other two islands with permission from the Park Rangers.
Collecting any plant, animal or other living or non-living things is strictly forbidden without prior written permission from the Director of Sabah Parks. Fishing, however, is permitted with hook and line only.
36. Pulau Sipadan (Sipadan Island)
The jewel in the crown of Sabah’s dive sites is Sipadan Island, 30km south of Semporna in the Celebes Sea. Sipadan is actually the crown of a volcanic spire formed millions of years ago, and has been described by Jacques Cousteau as ‘ an untouched piece of art.’ Underwater caves such as Turtle Cavern, Whitetip Avenue and Barracuda Point-all replete with magnificent corals and exotic fishes-are famous among international divers. Most dive operators to Sipadan are based in Kota Kinabalu.
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37. Pulau layang-Layang (Layang-Layang Island)
A restricted area, it is an island of 13 coral reefs linked together, located approx 120 miles from Labuan in the South China Sea. It is the ultimate of island splendours. The water is very clear; one can see down to 200 metres. Pulau Layang-layang offers the best for sailing, fishing, snorkeling and diving. Or just admire the beauty of the majestic surroundings, see the clouds touching the sea, the waves and the birds. This island has a small hotel and an airstrip. Visitors from Labuan can arrange a day trip to the island.
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38. Pulau Tiga Park (Three Park Islands)
The Pulau Tiga Park comprises three islands-Pulau Tiga, Pulau Kalampunian Besar and Pulau Kalampunian Damit situated in the Kimanis bay, off the west coast of Sabah. Gazetted as a National Park in 1978, It covers approximately 15,257 hectares of sea and underwater habitat including the three islands. Lush forests serve as a soothing green backdrop for white sandy beaches and the clear unpolluted waters of the coral fringed seas.
Flora and fauna
The undisturbed shoreline abounds with a colourful variety of plant life such as the Barringtonia Asiatica easily distinguished by its delicate white flowers with pink stamenlike filaments. There are also Callophylum, Termanilia catappa, and Casuarina not forgetting the Ardisia, a small bushy tree with cluster of tiny pink flowers. The Ranggu and Keruing are also abundant here. One particularly important tree among tropical islanders is the Hibiscus tiliaceus, a tree with bright yellow flowers whose fibrous bark is used for ropes and boat caulking. It is also a souce of timber, firewood and medicine.
The many varieties of birds include the fish eating frigate birds which roost on Pulau Kalampunian Damit and the unusual looking megapode. Hornbills, night jars, magpies, bulbuls, the brilliantly coloured and fast moving sunbirds and black-naped bridled terns also inhabit the islands. Long-tailed macaques are easily discernible between the foliage while bats sleep hanging ‘upside-down’ from the trees waiting for evening before embarking on their nocturnal food hunting expeditions. Reptiles include the grey-tailed racer snake, the beautiful yellow-ringed cat snake found on Pulau Tiga and a large population of sea snake on Pulau Kalampunian Besar earning it the name , ‘Snake island’. There are also numerous water monitor lizards preying on the megapode eggs. The ‘homeless’ hermit crab can also be seen moving into shells abandoned by the sea snails or other mollusc like a fugitive avoiding detection!
A 7-km coral reef around the islands is home to some 35 general species and 98 species of hard corals and their accompanying ‘guests’-the brightly coloured fish and other marine life to whom the reef is home.
Planning an itinerary
7 (1) Pulau Tiga
The island consists of three low hills that were formed when ‘volcanoes’ of mineral-rich mud were spewed out from underground. Since the last explosion in 1941, the ‘volcanoes’ have remained passive, leaving the island relatively serene. Coral fragments from the encircling reef, make up the fine sand of its clean white beaches, while the lush green forest is reflected in the emerald depths of the crystal clear sea. The island is a sanctuary for the megapode Megapode freycinet, a curious chicken-like creature that produces a cat-like meow sound. Trails winding through the undisturbed forest are worthwhile exploring if you wish to glean something of its flora and fauna. With a rest house and hostel facilities catering to a maximum of 20 persons at any one time, the island is ideal for overnight stays.
Rest house- 2 bedroom (for a total of 4 person)
Hostel- 4 bedroom (for a total of 16 person)
Camping- maximum campers is 60 person at one time)
7 (2) Pulau Kalampunian Damit
The island owes its fame to the sea snakes Laticauda colubrina which breed here in large numbers. These black-ringed snakes prey on eels and can usually be seen coiling in cosy clusters amongst the rocks where they lay their eggs.
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39. Tuanku Abdul Rahman Park
The Tunku Abdul Rahman Park comprises a group of 5 islands located between 3 to 8 km off Kota Kinabalu. The park is spread over 4,929 hectares, two thirds of which cover the sea. Before the Ice Age, it formed part of the Crocker Range mass of sandstone and sedimentary rock on the mainland. However, towards the end of the Ice Age about one million years ago, the melting ice brought about changes in the sea level and parts of the mainland were cut off by the sea to form the islands of Pulau Gaya, Pulau Sapi, Pulau Manukan, Pulau Mamutik and Pulau Sulug. Evidence of this can be seen from the exposed sandstone of the coastline forming the cliffs, caves, honeycombs and deep crevices. The beauty of its natural environment combined with its close proximity to the mainland makes the islands group a favourite among picnickers, divers and nature lovers. In a bid to protect the natural environment with its coral reefs, marine life, and its flora and fauna, the islands were gazetted as a National Park, beginning with Pulau Sapi and part of Pulau Gaya in 1974 and then embracing the three nearby islands in 1979.
Flora and fauna
The plant life feature a mix of typical shoreline vegetation such as Pandanus Dubius and Podocarpus Polystachyus with those of the dipterocarp forests. Representative of the latter group are the Keruing with their narrow crowns of large dark green leaves and unique ridged two-winged fruits. The Seraya, Kapur and Selagan Batu are also to be found in abundance. The only undisturbed coastal dipterocarp forests are on Pulau Gaya, where the Hopea Philipineansis and Quassia Borneensis are abundant. The fish Tail and Nibong Palam flourish in the shady gulleys.
The park is home to the bearded pig, scaly pangolin, rats, squirrels and monkeys. Snakes and monitor lizards make up the reptile population. Large birds such as the white breasted sea-eagle, pied hornbill and green heron are found in large number. Smaller varieties such as the sandpiper, the pink-necked green pigeon, bulbul, flycatcher, sunbird and swifttlets also flourish within the tranquil park environment. One of the most Megapode or Burung Tambun, a “chicken look-alike”, with large feet and which meows like a cat! It lays its eggs in huge mounds of sand and leaves at the edge of the beach. The fermentation of the leaves produces the heat necessary to incubate the eggs for succesful hatching.
The best coral reefs are those between Pulau Sapi and Pulau Gaya. The colourful and delicately beautiful corals are living organisms which feed on the plankton floating in the sea. The reefs is home to many different kinds of fish, in all shapes and colours of the rainbow the butterfly fish, parrot fish, clown fish in stripes of bright yellow and white, and dragon fish, and those of the bigger variety such as the red grouper, barracuda and catfish. Other marine life include molluscs, giant clams, sea cucumbers, the beautiful feather starfish, sea urchins in brilliant hues, cowrie shells and scorpion shells.
40. Pulau Manukan
Pulau Manukan shaped like a boomerang, Manukan covers 51 acres and is the second largest island in the group. The southern and eastern coastlines have a number of beautiful beaches-thebest stretch being on the eastern tip. The surrounding crystal clearwaters is ideal for snorkelling, diving and swimming. Trails around the island provide endless hours of exciting trekking in the cool, shady forest. Facilities such as chalets, a clubhouse, restaurants, souvenir centre, diving centre, a swimming pool, tennis and squash courts are provided to make your stay an enjoyable and fun-filled experience. There are 20 units of wooden chalets, situated on the lush green slope overlooking the sea. Set within a garden of swaying palms and vivid tropical blooms, they provide the perfect hide-away for overnight stays or leisurely weekends.
Reservations for accommodation:Sabah Parks, Lot 3, Block K, Sinsuran Complex,
P.O Box 10626, 88806 Kota Kinabalu,
Tel: (6088) 212719 / 211881
Fax: (6088) 211585 / 221001
41. Pulau Mamutik
It’s the smallest of the group, this island covers only 15 acres. Nevertheless, it is endowed with rich coral life which surrounds the islands with a colourful underwater treasure trove. The rare white distichopora and reddendrophyllia are to be found in the reef at the north-eastern tip. This is the place for diving enthusiasts and snorkellers!
Facilities such as changing rooms and toilets; picnic shelters and tables are provided for day trippers. There are no accommodation facilities but overnight camping on the island is allowed with prior permission from the Park Warden.
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42. Pulau Sulug
This 20-acre island, being the least developed and the farthest away, has an almost untouched quality making it ideal for those seeking a more tranquil and deserted atmosphere. The shoreline is mostly rocky with beautiful patches of reef at the southern end. Corals such as the Acropora, Echnipora, Montipora and seriapora are a visual delight with their variety, delicate shape and brilliant colours. Facilities such as changing rooms and toilets, picnic shelters and tables are provided for day trippers. There are no accommodation facilities but overnight camping on the island is allowed with prior permission from the Park Warden.
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43. Pulau Sapi
A small island of 25 acres has the distinct advantage of having some of the nicest beaches of clean white sand and sparkling crystal clear water and a coastline fringed with beautiful coral reefs. It is the ideal place for snorkelling, diving and swimming. If you can do neither of this but do not want to be left out in the discovery of the rich underwater treasures, take heart a glass boat rental service will allow you to see it all just as closely. Hiking trails through the interior provide an excellent opportunity for nature appreciation. There are are no accommodation facilities but picnic shelters, barbecues pits, tables, changing rooms and toilets are provided for day use. Camping is allowed with the permission of the Park Warden.
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44. Pulau Gaya
The largest island is located about 15 miles from Kota Kinabalu. The 3,665 acre island has 16 miles of shoreline, certain stretches consisting of fine white sand. Popular beaches include Bulijong Bay and Police beach, a quarter mile of beautiful sand sloping gently into the crystal clear bay, perfect for swimming, snorkeling and diving. The untouched coastal dipterocarp forest makes it ideal for trekking and graded nature trails through the inland forest provides opportunities for a study of the various species of plant and animal life within. Day use facilities include public shelters, changing rooms and public toilets.
• How to get there
Daily boat services are available from the Kota Kinabalu jetty to transport visitors to the park and back.
Departure times ( from Kota Kinabalu) Pick up times from the Park
9 am 1.30 pm
10 am 2.30 pm
11 am 3.30 pm
• General guidelines for visitors
The park was created for the protection of the natural environment, including the coral reefs, marine life and the flora and fauna. Certain guidelines have therefore been created to ensure the conservation of these natural treasures and visitors are advised to observe the regulations which are prominently displayed on all the islands. Visitors are strictly prohibited to engage in any of the following activities:
Hunt or carry firearms, poison, spearguns and dangerous weapons within the park.
Harm or disturb any plant, animal or other living things.
Pick, cut or collect plants, insects, coral, shells and any other materials, dead or alive.
Write names on rocks, trees or shelters.
Bring pets into the park.
Collecting of any plant, animal or other living or non-living things is strictly forbidden without prior written permission from the Direstor of Sabah Parks.
Fishing, however, I spermitted with hook and line only.
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46. Tanjung Aru Beach (Kota Kinabalu)
The Tanjung Aru Beach with its Prince Philip Park is just one of the many splendoured beaches in the West Coast. Tanjung Aru derives its name from the abundance of tall casuarinas or Aru trees that grace the shoreline in honour of the Consort of Queen Elizabeth II. There are countless magnificent beaches to explore and enjoy. While each one has a feel of paradise, there are always nearby hawker stalls offering mouth-watering cuisine while you soak in the wonders of the islands, especially the spectacular sunsets which the area is known for.
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47. Golf Courses in Sabah
the Malaysia golf holiday heaven, had some great courses. Washed by the South
China Sea, the Sulu Sea and the Celebes Sea, Sabah and its golf courses has a
long indented coastline and excellent dive sites, such as those around the
islands of Mabul, Sipadan and Layang Layang. Attracting climbers is Mount
Kinabalu, the highest mountain in Southeast Asia and the focal point of
Kinabalu Park, a World Heritage Site, which encompasses the Poring Hot Springs.
Sabah has five other national parks including the Tunku Abdul Rahman marine
park, and is home to three main indigenous groups namely, Kadaxan-Dusun, Murut
Recommended Golf Courses in Sabah
Borneo Golf & Country Club
by Jack Nicklaus, Borneo Golf & Country Club is a superbly-crafted golf
course in Sabah that plays 6546 metres off the championship tees. Spread over
200 acres on a 900-acre site in Sabah, the natural features of the lagoon and
surrounding terrain is played up to dramatise the water hazards as well as the
wastelands and bunkers, giving a strong character to this Malaysia golf course.The
Clubhouse facilities at Borneo Golf & Country Club include a golfer's
lounge, golf shop, locker rooms, driving range, practice area, resident pro and
putting green, karaoke and billiards. There are also facilities for swimming,
racquet games and fishing, ideal for a Malaysia golf package. The Borneo Golf
& Country Club is further complemented by the Prescott Resort Hotel
situated just besides the clubhouse and is one of the best golf courses in
Dalit Bay Golf and Country Club
haunt for golf enthusiasts is the Dalit Bay Golf and Country Club, Tuaran. This
golf course, which is a creation of Ted Parslow of E&G Parslow (M) S/B is
located 35 kilometers (40 minutes drive away) from Kota Kinabalu. This 18-hole,
par-72 golf course occupies a 6369 meter stretch of land.
Nexus Golf Resort Karambunai
Golf Resort Karambunai is a semi-public golf course located in Sabah, one of
Malaysia golfs top holf destinations. Located on the scenic Karambunai
Peninsula which is just a short drive north of Kota Kinabalu and half-an-hour
from KK International Airport. Karambunai Resorts Golf Club boasts a creative
and modern 18-hole, par 72 course with a traditional feel in a naturalistic
form crafted by renowned American golf achitect Ronald Fream.
Malaysia golf course is a gem, stretching 6,063 metres between the hilly
interior and a picturesque beachfront with course conditioning and turf grass
maintenance second to none in the state. The layout starts off inland then plays
alongside the beachfront from holes 3 to 5 with Mt. Kinabalu as the backdrop.
Fream has created a track of memorable challenge and character, making full use
of the scenic site and accentuating play with his trademark mounding and
contouring with tropical rainforest that comes into proximity and 12 landscaped
lakes that affect play.
golf course course in Sabah was designed with an emphasis on a variety of
playing experiences and to present memorable, fair but demanding challenges for
every level of play. The club, which is within walking distance from Nexus
Resort Karambunai, a 485-room luxurious beach resort, is equipped with full
buggy facilities, an open air driving range, practice chipping and putting
greens, a stylish clubhouse with comfortable and spacious changing and locker
rooms, Pro-shop and F&B amenities.
Sutera Harbour Golf Country Club
by leading golf course designer Graham Marsh, Sutera Harbour Golf Club has
garnered various awards of distinction and is one of the best golf course in
Malaysia and one of the most exciting golf courses in Sabah.
Sabah golf course is finished with Bermuda grass and strategically challenging
bunkers. Playing any combination of 18 holes, golfers will enjoy a par-72 six
thousand metre course. The 27-hole championship golf course apart from being
one of Malaysia's best golf courses is beautifully landscaped with undulating
terrain and numerous waterways, providing a challenge for both amateurs and top
professionals alike. You can enjoy up to 17 hours of golf in Sabah per day and
even tee off well past sunset as our Resort offers the only night golfing
opportunity in East Malaysia and one of the largest golf facilities in
Sabah Golf Country Club
Golf & Country Club can proudly declare itself to be the State’s oldest
18-hole golf course. Though nowhere near as old as the Kudat golf course, which
has passed the century mark, the 32 year old golf course presents a golfing
experience like no other. Reputed as one of the toughest golf courses in
South East Asia, this traditional inland golf course was designed by Robert
Sandakan Golf Club
in a bay on the north eastern coast of Sabah and facing the Sulu Seas, Sandakan
has always had a lot to offer. Nearby are the Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary and
the bird’s nest caves of Gomantong, as well as islands populated exclusively by
green turtles. The town recovered from the wreckages of World War II and began
to prosper. As the standard of living rose, many clubs began to sprout, one of
which was the Sandakan Golf Club.
San Shui Golf Club
Shui is truly an ultimate dream course for golfers of any level. Carved out of
natural jungle terrain golfers will experience Borneo at it's best. Wildlife,
flora and fauna are in abundance. Rated as one of the best course in Sabah and
possibly in Malaysia too, it's length and degree of difficulty has a rating of
74 and a slope of 143. Put this on your list of must-plays on your next
Malaysia golf holiday
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48. Hotel / Accommodation Near By (Area)
Sabah All Around
West Coast Division
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